D&D 5E Balancing Warlocks on a 1-2 combat per day workload.

rgoodbb

Adventurer
As a DM, if you knew you were going to play a homebrew campaign with a maximum one or maybe occasionally two combat encounters in each whole day, how could you help balance the warlock?


  • Proficiency bonus spell slots per initiative?
  • One more slot per short rest then presently allocated
  • Charisma bonus slots per short rest
  • When an enemy fails its first spell save DC against your spell, the slot is not used…
  • Other?


Obviously you couldn’t match the slots of other full casters as you already cast at highest level and you also have those wonderful invocations. But the flavourful background of the warlock is a roleplaying dream. How may one incentivise? What to do? What to do.



Simple fixes sought.
 

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Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I think the easiest way would be to just move them to the same spellcasting as the other fullcasters. They'd lose their short rest recovery and the auto-scale, but with a full spellcasting and their invocations + boons +class features, it evens out.

Or

Give them their extra spell list as extra spell known, and give them 1 free casting of each of them once per day.
 


ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
If these are longer encounters, I’d give them 3x their short rest slots in one big pile for the entire adventuring day.

I’d do the same for battlemasters and bards (inspiration) and monks.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter

Level Up shifted them to Spell Points. Gives 'em a bit more flexibility for the day so they don't blow all their spells in one shot. Add in the different Eldritch Blast implementations and they're pretty choice.

As far as recovery mechanics go, you could allow them to recover a spell slot if they land a killing blow on a reasonable enemy (No bag of rats) as a way to offset the loss of spellpower they might have during the day.
 

jgsugden

Legend
There is no reason to fix them. They get two high level spells and then can blast away with Eldritch Blast. That is more than enough for 2 combats in a day.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
There is no reason to fix them. They get two high level spells and then can blast away with Eldritch Blast. That is more than enough for 2 combats in a day.
I would not agree. They will feel strapped for resources alongside long rest casters without their short rests, particularly on one encounter days, and especially if those encounters go on to ten rounds or more.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
There is no reason to fix them. They get two high level spells and then can blast away with Eldritch Blast. That is more than enough for 2 combats in a day.
I agree.

No fix needed.

Many of my "adventuring days" are just one or two combats, and warlocks work perfectly well as designed, especially if they can get a short rest in between the two combats.

I would play them AS IS first, and only if you find them lacking look to buff them.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
As a DM, if you knew you were going to play a homebrew campaign with a maximum one or maybe occasionally two combat encounters in each whole day, how could you help balance the warlock?


  • Proficiency bonus spell slots per initiative?
  • One more slot per short rest then presently allocated
  • Charisma bonus slots per short rest
  • When an enemy fails its first spell save DC against your spell, the slot is not used…
  • Other?


Obviously you couldn’t match the slots of other full casters as you already cast at highest level and you also have those wonderful invocations. But the flavourful background of the warlock is a roleplaying dream. How may one incentivise? What to do? What to do.



Simple fixes sought.
I might give them a flat bonus per day/long rest to their total number of available castings, probably their proficiency bonus’s worth, in addition to their regular casting capacities, so at level 1 they start the day with 3 spell uses: 1 standard one that replenishes on a short rest and 2 bonus ones that don’t, at level 2 they start with 4 slots: 2 standard and 2 bonus.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
As a DM, if you knew you were going to play a homebrew campaign with a maximum one or maybe occasionally two combat encounters in each whole day, how could you help balance the warlock?


  • Proficiency bonus spell slots per initiative?
  • One more slot per short rest then presently allocated
  • Charisma bonus slots per short rest
  • When an enemy fails its first spell save DC against your spell, the slot is not used…
  • Other?


Obviously you couldn’t match the slots of other full casters as you already cast at highest level and you also have those wonderful invocations. But the flavourful background of the warlock is a roleplaying dream. How may one incentivise? What to do? What to do.



Simple fixes sought.
I don't think the Warlock necessarily needs more balance and these examples would be way OP. If you are going to change the mechanic, just change it to PB per long rest.

While the spell slots are limiting compared to a full caster, especially on days which have no short rests, but I think there are larger imbalances on other classes including Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger and Rogue and giving the Warlock more would widen the gap bewtween the Warlock and those classes.

Warlocks have subclass abilities which are top tier and a POC/IOCM with a Sprite is throwing out a poisoned arrrow every single turn as a bonus action and that arrow is saved against your spell save and put enemies to sleep on a 5. That plus agonizing blast and 2 spells is plenty to keep them balanced on 2 fights a day.
 

and especially if those encounters go on to ten rounds or more.
?!?!???!?!?!?!?

10 rounds?

What the hell kind of 5E encounter goes on 10 rounds?

Talk about burying the lede. If you have encounters going 10 rounds on the regular, that's your main balancing issue, not 1-2 encounters/day.

5E's encounters typically last 3-4 rounds. You have totally and completely ignore 5E's encounter design guidance to get over like 5-6 unless something bizarre is happening. To get to 10? You basically have to be running something totally wild. Which is fine, but that's what the main issue is - you're running encounters that last 2.5x as long.

I dunno why anyone hasn't suggested the easiest possible balance solution though.

Just change Warlocks to Long Rests, and increase their resources on the basis that they'd get 2 Short Rests per day. So

L1 = 3 spell slots/day.
L2 to L10 = 6 spell slots/day.
L11 to L16 = 9 spell slots/day.
L17 to L20 = 12 spell slots/day.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I dunno why anyone hasn't suggested the easiest possible balance solution though.

Just change Warlocks to Long Rests, and increase their resources on the basis that they'd get 2 Short Rests per day. So

L1 = 3 spell slots/day.
L2 to L10 = 6 spell slots/day.
L11 to L16 = 9 spell slots/day.
L17 to L20 = 12 spell slots/day.
Although simple, it grants Warlocks not only sufficient spells per day but also more spell levels than other full casters, which combined with Invocations which are often enough at-will spells or additional spells per day (and thus more spell levels) is really too much IMO.

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Only Wizards who can use Arcane Recovery can keep up, but then they don't have Invocations to fall back on.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
I dunno why anyone hasn't suggested the easiest possible balance solution though.
I suggested exactly this! 2 or 3x the pact slots, based on how many short rests the group might usually get.

However, I'd also do the same for battlemaster maneuvers, bardic inspiration, and Ki.

It does get messy; but is the table isn't going to give PCs the short rests they're built around (the game assumes 2 SR per LR; so three "doses" of SR resources) some extra resources are necessary.
 

Although simple, it grants Warlocks not only sufficient spells per day but also more spell levels than other full casters, which combined with Invocations which are often enough at-will spells or additional spells per day (and thus more spell levels) is really too much IMO.
/shrug, honestly.

Warlocks are behind at 40% of levels until level 11 (which is the most heavily-played level range), and then they're ahead by a tiny and meaningless amount.

Sure if you get to 17, then that's kind of hilarious until 20 when things even out, but it's just not a big deal as still only get X spells/day.
 

I suggested exactly this! 2 or 3x the pact slots, based on how many short rests the group might usually get.

However, I'd also do the same for battlemaster maneuvers, bardic inspiration, and Ki.

It does get messy; but is the table isn't going to give PCs the short rests they're built around (the game assumes 2 SR per LR; so three "doses" of SR resources) some extra resources are necessary.
Sorry, missed that, but yeah I'd do the same. As @DND_Reborn points out, it's imperfect, but it's easy, it's relatively clean, and it's a hell of a lot better than most of the suggestions here in terms of actual balance (with issues at a handful of levels).
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
2 pact slots for pretty much an entire adventuring day sounds pretty bad. My memory of it was that it was not as fun as it could be. 6 slots for levels 2-20 would be more tolerable. Might a warlock go nova? Maybe. But full casters can do that too in situations where they rarely if ever run out of slots.

Plus, if people are trying to pack a full day's worth of combat into 1-2 encounters, in my experience those encounters are longer (especially if they involve reinforcements, etc), so more opportunities to notice you have no slots to spend.

Really, short-rest resource classes just don't fit well into a 1-2 big fight per day game. It takes some DM awareness about this, though, which I think is a flaw in the system much more than a DM fault.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Warlocks are behind at 40% of levels until level 11 (which is the most heavily-played level range), and then they're ahead by a tiny and meaningless amount.
But they are ahead 60% of the time AND they get Invocations on top of having more spell levels! Considering all their spell slots are at maximum spell level, I also don't find that tiny or meaningless... YMMV, of course. :)

L1 = 3 spell slots/day.
L2 to L10 = 6 spell slots/day.
L11 to L16 = 9 spell slots/day.
L17 to L20 = 12 spell slots/day.
This assumes two short rests per day, and is a bit high for me. I could easily see just doubling spell slots (the same as if a single short rest was done). Leading to:

L1 = 2 spell slots/day.
L2 to L10 = 4 spell slots/day.
L11 to L16 = 6 spell slots/day.
L17 to L20 = 8 spell slots/day.

Not including Mystic Arcanum of course...

IMO, along with Invocations that Warlocks have, that should be more than sufficient for the OP with just one or maybe two combats per long rest.
 


ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
Maybe. So long as they're not doing the 10+ round combats one poster was suggesting!
I think it depends on whether or not they are trying pack the entire exp budget for the day into those encounters.

If they aren't, the casters overall will feel much stronger than noncasters which is a bad thing; and the warlocks will just feel a bit like noncasters there (better in some ways, about as bad in others). It's the five minute adventuring day problem and full casters can spend most rounds casting their highest 1-3 spell slots.

Many of the invocations that provide at-will abilities at lower levels are essentially ribbon features, too. Yes, Eldritch blast is a great spell when paired with agonizing blast, but that's really just damage on par with sneak attack.
 

"Proficiency bonus times per day, regain all expended spell slots as an action. If you have not cast a spell other than a cantrip in the current round, you may instead do this as a bonus action, but you cannot cast any other spells (except cantrips) in the same round that you use this as a bonus action."

Early on, you still have to shepherd your resources (only getting 6 spells per day.) At high levels, you have a solid baseline, possibly even a slight buff to damage, which is honestly fine, Warlock could use the boost. Since you can't use this feature and cast a regular spell in the same round, at high level you would need to be burning through several spells every round to be able to use up all 6 uses of this feature in just 2 combats.

Mathematically, that's 30 spells at 17+; even if you cast a spell as an action and as a reaction every round you could, you'd need 3 rounds to cast 6 spells, so 3×30/6 = 15 rounds, less one for the final cycle since you don't need to refresh then. Two combats that are both 7 rounds each is a very long time in 5e, and that's assuming you can even manage to cast that many spells that closely packed together. I don't think it's enough to be concerned about, and the extra spells give the Warlock the chance to shine outside combat as well as inside.
 

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